January 2019
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A Door Into Ocean -- Sharer Selfnames / my selfnames and yours

I just finished reading A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, and I am awed. I've never had a fiction novel change me so deeply -- and in more than one way, at that! It gave me a new view of unity, something so subtle I don't quite know how to put it into words... Things I already knew but didn't know. I really cannot capture it myself -- you'd have to read it and feel it for yourself. If you feel a strong kinship to me I know it will touch you just as deeply (and it's been around a long time so it's not hard to find for super-cheap at a used book store or on Amazon).

I found a concept in the novel that has been reflected in my own life -- the Selfname. To claim adulthood, a Sharer chooses a Selfname, a descriptive term which is sometimes attached to their given name and sometimes used alone. Names such as "Impatient One" "Inconsiderate One" "Intemperate One" or "Lazy One." At first I was put off by this seeming self-effacement, but as I learned more I realized the purpose of this. A Sharer chooses a name and spends the rest of zir life renouncing it -- allowing everyone who knows zir to hold zir accountable for this, to remind zir and to help zir keep focus. This not only requires deep self-knowledge and humility but it means that your growth is shared by everyone around -- that it's almost a group project! the amount of openness, honesty, and utter vulnerability in that just floors me. And when a Sharer outgrows a Selfname, ze chooses another. (an interesting aspect of this is that in Sharer language, all actions are shared -- therefore, to be "the inconsiderate" is the same as to be "the unconsidered" because a more accurate translation would be "one who shares lack of consideration"... another of those mindbending concepts)

I've had several Selfnames. When I was little I was "K the Lying/Thieving One." (and yes I was both lied to and stolen from) That was a name I shed in one deliberate movement -- I went to a revival and had an amazing connection experience with God/dess and I promised I would not lie or steal anymore, and I didn't, almost couldn't, after that. I was 11 then. After that I was "K the Manipulative One"; when I realized that I was behaving in exactly the same way as my bioparent M, manipulating people, I was disgusted and worked very hard to refrain from manipulating. It was difficult for me as almost all of my friends were very easily manipulated, but after about two years I shed that name too. Then I was "K the Cynical One" and I practiced hatred, distrust, and disconnection to protect myself. After having a vision of Jesus lovingly and laughingly taking down bricks from the wall I was putting up, I finally realized that I could not share love if I walled myself in, and I began working on that Selfname. That one took a very long time, and kinda faded out gradually, so I'm not sure when it was that I finally shed it. It overlapped with "Bel the Closed-Off" which was the Selfname I lived with from age 19 until probably about age 23. I realized that part of being open to love was not just refraining from putting up walls, but tearing down old walls and inviting people in. Then I moved on to "Bel the Uncaring" when I focused on learning/practicing compassion for those who are unkind -- seeking to always remember and see their own hurt driving them to hurt others. That was possibly my shortest name because it worked exponentially -- I had but to give a little bit of effort and time and it was returned a hundredfold. Now, I think my Sharer Selfname would be "Bel the Cowardly" and it feels REALLY raw to write that even though I have already shared that I feel I need to take more risks and just... live more loudly. (and no, I'm not comfortable with people calling me that, heh... though maybe other selfnamers)

Though, I think that if I were going to actually take a Selfname I would prefer to phrase it in the positive as I think that would serve as just as much of a reminder, while be speaking what I WANT into existence rather than the opposite. Thus, my Selfnames would have run: the Honest, the Respectful, the Full-of-Faith, the Open, the Compassionate, the Brave. In various ways I'm still learning/earning all of those names, especially 'the Full-of-Faith' and 'the Brave.' It's interesting to see how they all blend and overlap, though I'd be hard-pressed to sum them up in a single title. (and interestingly enough I would be more comfortable wearing "Cowardly" than "Brave" because it feels easier to disprove a negative than to prove a positive...)

If you were to take a Selfname, what would it be? and please explain, if you can. All comments screened and will stay screened, of course.

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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.